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The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action

(Darwin Awards #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  5,008 ratings  ·  297 reviews
"Only two things are infinite-the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the universe." -Albert Einstein

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, The Darwin Awards vividly portrays the finest examples of evolution in action, and shows us just how uncommon common sense can be.

Marvel at the thief who steals electrical wires without shutt

Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 28th 2002 by Plume Books (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  5,008 ratings  ·  297 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a HORRIBLE book.

Horrible in its attitude, that is. Actually, it is very cleverly written and readable.

The book narrates incidents where people die or lose their reproductive capability through stupid acts (the so-called "stupidity" is debatable in some cases, though)and thus contribute to the cause of evolution of a smarter homo sapiens by removing their "stupidity" genes from the gene pool. For this service, they are presented with a Darwin Award.

The website is immensely popular, and th
This book, despite being about death and mutilation, is actually displaying a kind of up-beat hopefulness. It says, "Fear not, humans, for the stupid among you are killing themselves and therefore the smarter among you will breed and thus, humanity gets smarter!" Only, that's pretty much a lie. One needs only watch the first 5 minutes of Idiocracy to see why.

Here we have Trevor and Carol (IQs 138 and 141 respectively) vs Clevon (IQ 84). Carol and Trevor are waiting for the right time - in their
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This book was hilarious. I am now seriously wondering how the human race has managed to survive for as long as it has. Surely for each idiot mentioned in this book there are loads more just waiting to do something fatally stupid? And doesn't it seem that it's the stupid ones that breed more frequently than those who possess a brain?

Anyway, this book chronicles the bizarre ways in which people have 'improved our gene pool by removing themselves from it in an astonishingly stupid way'. Also eligib
Dave Leichter
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like to read about death while on the toilet
A good bathroom book. Although entertaining, I found the book's self-righteous tone unnecessary. I am perfectly capable of finding entertainment in the misfortune of others, without having to be convinced that the individuals where somehow deserving of their misfortunes. ...more
Alex Segal
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People into Dark Humor, who have a strong stomach
The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action is by far one of the funniest books I have ever read. The book has no real linear story but it is extremely funny and says a lot about the world we live in and the people who are in it. The book can generally be called tongue and cheek, but I think that the thought behind the concept deserves explanation.
Named after Charles Darwin, the father of evolution and the theory of natural selection this book uses his ideas to critique the stupidity of humanity. Th
Connie D.
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Humorous if you are in that sort of mood. Mean spirited if you are not.
Brandon Sawyer
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it
It is what it is. If you know the website, then this is that. In book form. Which is much easier for toilet reading (for some reason, people still look at you funny if you bring a wifi connected laptop into the crapper). ...more
Aug 29, 2013 rated it liked it
You know those days.

You head off chipper to work only to have your spirit crushed by the struggle to learn new computer software. Meanwhile, a coworker, the office suck-up, spent his weekend reading the entire help section and proceeds to show off his tech prowess to the boss.

Needing a pick-me-up after a hellish day, you swing by the grocery store on the way home to invest your life savings in a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. However, you only manage to increase your level of frustration by fi
``Laurie Henderson
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A mean spirited but guilty pleasure book. Some of these "accidents" are absolutely mind-boggling. Snark galore in this series if you are looking for a few laughs. ...more
Ashley Brown
The Darwin Awards - something I had been planning on reading for a very long time. Some of the tales in this book are reminiscent of the show 1000 Ways to Die - in fact, I recognized some of the Unconfirmed tales as very similar versions as tales from the show. Whether that gives more credence to the show or less to the book, I've yet to decide. As it stands, the Darwin Awards simply is what it is - a collection of deaths or near-deaths that will cause you to simply shake your head at the antics ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: humor
I lost interest in this book because the premise of willing people's deaths is simply deplorable. While the rest of humanity works toward a more compassionate society, this book makes an attempt at reviving a humor more prevalent in the 6th grade. You actually have to read it by telling yourself to forgo some morals ... which then brings to question if the author had any at all. ...more
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
The descriptions of the book and the opening vignettes of each chapter were varying levels of actually funny, but 90% of the stories themselves were just sad. I was expecting some light bathroom reading, but what I got were just some dry facts about stupid mistakes ending predictably horribly peppered with the occasional clever turn of phrase.
Greg Meyer
Sep 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
These books are kinda horrifying. They portray these people's deaths as a funny anecdote. This is a portrayal of how our society has become desensitized to the point of not even caring about death except as a casually funny story. ...more
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious collection of accidents leading to deaths. (I know, not funny but still . .) The judges take their selections very seriously and have a rigorous process to include entries. They believe the finalists are contributing to the survival of the fittest theory by eliminating themselves from the gene pool. Bet you can't help but laugh. ...more
Jan 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Forgetting the fact that Darwin was inspired very late in his researches to add the idea that every squirrel and beetle on earth is secretly engaged in some zero-sum conflict, and that his inspiration was the misinformed misanthrope Malthus, who wrote from a much bigger, far more British island than Darwin studied in South America, many years and species earlier, The Darwin Awards is a very entertaining way to feel superior and understood at one and the same time.

A similar award, the Ignobel, ha
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 1
I love these Darwin Awards books. They're great to read when you have other things going on because each story is so short. I can literally pick this up when I have 30 free seconds and get a laugh. Many of them I read out loud to my husband as well. My 10 and 8 year olds also enjoy them, although the 8 year old misses a lot of references. A warning: I did wind up having to explain, "Mom, what's S&M sex?" to the 10 year old. Oh well, gotta explain it sometime... At least the guy it referred to wa ...more
Jeff Guertin
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I've always been a fan of reading about Darwin Awards online, so I was excited for this book. The stories were good, but I was disappointed in the amount of "unconfirmed" and "urban legends" that were presented. I would much rather read a book full of stories that were actually confirmed via news/police reports, etc. I hope the subsequent versions of the Darwin Awards have more confirmed stories. ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it
This is one of my coffee table books. (I am grossed out by the whole bathroom book idea.) It's fun for guests to scan through or fidget with when they come over. Compared to other books I have put out this book was the most popular with my company. Everybody couldn't resist picking it up and reading at least one story from it. It started many light conversations and helped break the ice. ...more
Amy (DemonKittie)
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
Pretty hilarious. I loved reading about the stupid ways people can die.
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series, non-fiction
I'm disturbed that I had a few laughs while reading this book. I mean these people DIED! But I just couldn't help it. Some folks are just not meant to continue populating their gene pools. ...more
Dane Cobain
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
First off, I feel like I need to explain what the Darwin Awards actually are in case you somehow haven’t heard of them. The idea of a Darwin Award is that it’s a posthumous accolade that’s given to people who have removed themselves from the gene pool – therefore acting as examples of the theory of evolution and natural selection in action – by dying in unusual or idiotic ways.

And thus the Darwin Awards were born, and whilst it originally built up momentum as a mailing list at Stanford Universit
Alex Telander
Jan 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Think of the stupidest thing a person could ever do. Multiply this by a factor of ten. Then imagine that this person gets killed in the process of carrying out the stupid act. This is an example of a Darwin Award.

In the founding days of the Internet, these Darwin Awards were one of the first chain letters to be created, named after the father of evolution, Charles Darwin. In 1993, UC Berkeley began collecting them, finally starting a website Since July of 1999 there have be
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Those Who Can Laugh at Stupidity Causing Death
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List
The Darwin Awards commemorate ""individuals who ensure the long-term survival of our species by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion." The subtitle is "evolution in action." The description on the back cover asks you to "Marvel at the thief who tries to steal live electrical wires. Gape at the lawnchair jockey who floats to a height of 16,000 feet suspended by helium balloons." These purport to be true, verified stories: I guess that's why in the end I just can't ...more
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up at a local used bookstore, enticed by the low price and excited about the potentially hilarious anecdotes I was about to read, only to want my small amount of money back. The Darwin Awards moves quickly, and some of the stories are very funny, but the humor always lands in an inherently tasteless and uncomfortable place.

The major problem with this book is not that it has limited ambitions and feels like a stocking stuffer (though it unquestionably does); the problem is that
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Suicide, a topic that is untouchable. It is a dark and morose gesture to discuss, right? WRONG! In this comical book about accidental death, the author Wendy Norcutt exposes the idiotic side of the world.
"The Darwin Awards" is a book that awards people for improving the gene pool, by removing themselves from it. This is a book that celebrates idiocy. Learn about the gangster from Sao Paul who threw the pin while holding onto the grenade, or the sun tanner who spent 45 minutes in a UV machine wi
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to the audiobook version which was about 3 1/2 hours. I didn't expected much from a book about stories of people doing stupid things resulting in their demise, but this was still worse than I thought it would be.
Despite the fact that a significant portion of stories are either admittedly unverified accounts and/or urban legends, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of the book, the narrator was nearly unbearable. His obnoxious, smarmy tone makes you cringe as he hits you with the
Mar 05, 2009 rated it liked it
A sword-swallower died in Bonn after he put an umbrella down his throat-and accidentally pushed the button that opened it"

This book is not about scientifically evolution theory, but then the evolution of mind is happening and observable in life. Natural selection.. We never know how long our life will last. If we don’t survive to pass this generation, I just hope stupidity doesn’t take any part in it. Because if it does, then you'll win the Darwin awards and sometimes without ever knowing it. Aw
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, z-read-in-2013
Schadenfreude in bite sized pieces. It's a natural selection for a bathroom read. You can deal with two unsavory biological needs at once and it helps you to pace your consumption of these tales of woe. Too many of these laughable accidents taken in one dose can be less effective.

Though intended primarily to be funny the "Darwin Award for the Dry Spell" segment left me wondering a bit... A man died after trying to cross the desert with only three quarts of water. It states that those in the know
I remember many years ago, my dad's oldest friend telling us about this funny book called the Darwin Awards. Finally - what, 10 years later, maybe? - I've borrowed it from the library and read it. I'd scanned through it at a used book store a few years back, but after discovering LA County's amazing library system, I knew this would be a fast read and I borrowed it.

As long as I don't think too deeply, this is an amusing book. It sure is hard to believe that some people were that stupid. I was pl
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Wendy Northcutt graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in molecular biology. She began collecting the stories that make up the Darwin Awards in 1993 and founded shortly after.

Northcutt is the author of the international bestsellers The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action, The Darwin Awards 2: Unnatural Selection, The Darwin Awards 3: Survival of the Fittest, and The Darwin A

Other books in the series

Darwin Awards (5 books)
  • The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection (Darwin Awards, #2)
  • The Darwin Awards III: Survival of the Fittest (Darwin Awards, #3)
  • The Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design (Darwin Awards, #4)
  • The Darwin Awards Next Evolution: Chlorinating the Gene Pool (Darwin Awards, #5)

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